A night of Motown tributes will open the 29th annual Detroit International Jazz Festival on Aug. 29 in downtown Detroit.
The four-day Labor Day weekend program — held in Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park and along Jefferson Avenue between them — is billed as A Love Supreme: The Philly/Detroit Summit. But Detroit will have the upper hand, at least on the first night.
Singer Diane Reeves will perform material from her latest album, “When You Know,” which is a salute to the Temptations. Then Philadelphia bassist Christian McBride, the festival’s Artist in Residence, will lead a jazz tribute to the late Marvin Gaye with a big band featuring Detroit musicians as well as vocalists Lalah Hathaway, Rahsaan Patterson and Jose James. The rest of the festival lineup, which is being formally announced at a press conference today in Detroit’s Guardian Building, includes Pontiac jazz legend Hank Jones along with other area artists such as the Hot Club of Detroit, Geri Allen, Barry Harris and Gerald Wilson. Wilson’s own Orchestra will hold a “battle of the bands” with the Count Basie Orchestra; the showdown will also feature Detroit native Kenny Burrell and vocalist Nnenna Freelon.
A number of guitarists are slated to perform during the weekend, including Detroit’s sacred slide great Calvin Cook, the Allman Brothers Band’s Derek Trucks, Mike Stern, Pat Martino, Jim Hall and Grant Green Jr. The bill also includes a Labor Day performance by the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Jazz Band with James Moody, Jimmy Heath and Slide Hampton; Roberta Gambarini; a Saturday Night Fish Fry spotlighting the Hammond organ, with Reuben Wilson’s Godfathers of Groove, Robin Eubanks + EB3, and Joey DeFrancesco with Karriem Riggins and McBride; and a tribute to Alice Coltrane hosted by her son, Ravi, and featuring Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette and Detroiter Geri Allen.
Flutist and radio morning show host Alexander Zonjic will hold forth with Jeff Lorber, Doc Gibbs, Maysa and the Motor City Horns, while bassist Brian Bromberg will team with Randy Brecker. Dee Dee Sharpe will offer a tribute to Philly Soul and to recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.
Other festival artists include: Robin Eubanks; Slide Hampton; Bonerama; Trombone Shorty; the University of Michigan Jazz Trombone Choir; Ted Nash; Roy Hargrove; ICP Orchestra; Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey; Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts; Col. Bruce Hampton & the Quark Alliance; Gerald Clatyon; Esperanza Spalding; the Wayne State University Big Band with Jimmy Heath; the Temple University Big Band with Benny Golson; the Michigan State University Jazz Band with Jon Faddis; and visiting ensembles from the Berklee College of Music and the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quartet.
The festival will also continue popular ancillary attractions, such as the KidBop and Arts & Scraps areas for children. The Jazz Talk Tent lineup includes Christian McBride, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Barry Harris, Hank Jones, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, James Moody and Slide Hampton.
After a reported turnout of 750,000 last year — an estimated 25 percent of which came from out of town — organizers now claim the Detroit gathering is the largest free jazz festival in North America.
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